Selfa Chew Meléndez Ph.D. named new associate dean of undergrad studies


Annabella Mireles

Selfa A. Chew Meléndez, Ph.D., is a history and African American studies professor, researcher, publisher writer, who has been appointed as the new associate dean of undergraduate studies.

Maria L. Guerrero Duran, Web Editor

Selfa A. Chew Meléndez, Ph.D., is a history and African American studies professor, researcher, publisher writer, poet and artist who has devoted her scholarship to serve the UTEP community for almost 20 years.  

As the new associate dean of undergraduate studies for the College of Liberal Arts, she plans to advocate for students and work with Dean Anadeli Bencomo in the best interests of the College of Liberal Arts.  

Prior to her current role, Chew Meléndez has worked at UTEP as a lecturer, coordinator of the Department of Languages and Linguistics, director for the Department of African American Studies Program, coordinator of both the Mexican Contemporary Literature Congress and magazine. 

Born and raised in Mexico City, Chew Meléndez recalls the moment when her parents and herself moved to Ciudad Juárez in her late teen years. To seek a higher education, she enrolled at UTEP for her bachelor’s degree but was forced to move back to Mexico City due to her family’s financial situation, where she got her bachelor’s degree in communication sciences at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico (UNAM).  

After graduating from UNAM, Chew Meléndez decided to come back to UTEP to get two master’s degrees in creative writing and history, and her philosophy doctorate’s degree in borderlands history. Ever since earning those degrees, she has been a lecturer for the Department of History and the African American Studies Program. 

“I lived in Juárez, but I was completely lost,” Chew Meléndez said. “Ever since I came back here and I had a certain influence over the learning processes of my students. So, I said ‘if it’s possible, I won’t let my students go through what I did.’” 

Being a professor for almost 20 years has given Chew Meléndez the opportunity to learn from her students, from both professional and personal aspects in life. She describes the job as an exchange of ideas and perspectives that help innovate and renew the work done at the college.  

She is especially excited about representing the Latino community from a leadership position.  

“When my colleagues congratulate me, I think they mean ‘finally, finally a person like us,’’’ she said. “I feel as if they felt represented through my life experiences as a member of this transnational community.” 

Understanding the lifestyle students at UTEP live, such as being full-time students and full-time employees, caretakers, and parents, Chew Meléndez brought that internal experience to the College of Liberal Arts. 

“Our goal is to help all students, no matter their background and current situation,” she said. “We want to help them through all their phases in life and make them aware that they are absolutely prepared to be leaders. It’s not just about having their diploma, it’s about being leaders within their communities.” 

Excited to be an advocate for Latino students, she also acknowledges the support the faculty and staff has shown her, and the good team she has been working with for two decades. 

“I am happy. This team is magnificent, they are excellent professionals, researchers and human beings,” she said. “We have a wonderful team, especially under the leadership of Dean Anadeli Bencomo.” 

Maria L. Guerrero Duran is the web and copy editor and may be reached at [email protected]; @bymariaguerrero on Instagram and Twitter.